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Large-scale executive reshuffles loom in Korea’s banking sector

South Korea’s financial groups are facing potentially massive reshuffles of their executive teams as a majority of the incumbents at commercial lenders and their holding companies approach the end of their tenure at year-end.

According to disclosures from the respective financial holding companies -- KB, Shinhan, KEB Hana, Woori and NH -- sweeping changes may be ahead for the new year.

KB Financial Group will see 12 out of 16 executives, excluding auditors, end their terms in December. At its subsidiary lender, KB Kookmin Bank, the terms of 17 out of 20 are set to expire by year-end. Five double as executives both of the bank and its holding company. For example, Park Jeong-rim serves as the vice president for wealth management both for the bank and the holding company.

Of Shinhan Financial Group’s 10 executives, six will see their terms expire in December, while its lending arm, Shinhan Bank, may replace 13 out of 22 for the same reason by year-end. Within Shinhan, four individuals serve as executives of both the lender and the parent company and their terms are scheduled to end this year.

At KEB Hana Bank, 25 out of 26 executives might be replaced, subject to decisions by the leadership, while its parent company, Hana Financial Group, plans not to renew contracts with nine of its 13 executives. Five of them double as executives of the holding company and its banking subsidiary.

At Woori Bank, the de facto holding company of Woori Financial Group, 13 out of 24 executives will finish their contracts in December. Moreover, seven out of 12 NongHyup Bank vice presidents are scheduled to complete their terms.

Eyes are on whether the banking groups will ask some executives to extend their contracts amid challenging circumstances. The respective leaders of Shinhan and KEB Hana are facing litigation over alleged misdeeds when hiring entry-level employees. Woori is poised to reintroduce the holding company structure in December, with plans to include no more than about five executives plus a chairperson.

As year-end draws near, subsidiaries of Korean financial holding companies are also awaiting leadership changes. Nine subsidiaries’ heads under KB Financial Group and four under NohgHyup Financial Group are subject to change early next year. Also, in March 2019, the heads of eight Hana subsidiaries and 11 Shinhan subsidiaries will end their terms.

By Son Ji-hyoung